The effects of New Orleans' smoking ban, 100 days later

New Orleans is a magical place known for many things: music, food, architecture, festivals, partying — and a smoking ban?

In a city that knows how to let loose (and then some), that last bit might not sound very likely. I suppose you'll just have to consider it the new New Orleans.


That's a big no-no! Image via lolololori.

The city passed a smoke-free ordinance in January 2015, and it went into effect April 22, 2015, making it illegal to smoke in bars and the city's lone casino ... aka a lot of places in NOLA.

And time flies: Aug. 5 marked 100 days of New Orleans being smoke-free in these establishments. New data shows the effect it's had so far.

The city has seen a 96% drop in air pollution levels in less than four months.

The info comes from a study conducted by indoor air quality researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Their team set up shop at 13 different bars and one casino in New Orleans — before and after the ban was implemented — and used high-tech air pollution monitors to determine the amounts of fine particle air pollution in each establishment.

100 days. 96% drop in air pollution.

“We've heard from so many people in our bars, restaurants and casino who say they feel better and can breathe easier now without the stress of knowing they are in an unhealthy environment," said councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance's chief sponsor.

The study might seem small considering there are a bajillion bars in NOLA, but the results of it are nothing to scoff at. Especially when you see how it adds to a larger trend happening in the United States.

New Orleans is just one more city added to an ever-growing list of cities and states going smoke-free.

The American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation says that as of July 1, 2015, 30 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have laws in effect that require restaurants and bars to be 100% smoke-free. Did your city or state make the list?

Map and data via American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

It's no secret that secondhand smoke is bad for you: It contains more than 7,000 chemicals with at least 69 that cause cancer. Asking people to take it outside can only help.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that's exactly what's happening. It's only a matter of time before that map is all blue, don't you think?

No one likes air pollution, and this is one easy way to reduce it indoors. Hooray for happier lungs!

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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